Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Raising Work Capacity - Louie Simmons

 Louie Simmons

Bodybuilder Mike Francois trains at Westside Barbell Club
in order to increase his work capacity.

This is an older article from PLUSA. Hey! Not all that old, eh.1995.
That ain't old.

I believe it is every competitive powerlifter's dream to first reach a Master total, then to reach an Elite total, and then on to stardom. Well, there are two factors essential for success. The first is acquiring skill, not only in the three lifts, but also sin special exercises. The second factor, and the most important in my opinion, is raising work capacity.

As a contest approaches, most lifters will drop their volume by reducing sets and reps in the powerlifts as well as in their assistance work. This is a mistake. Correct volume can be calculated by the percent method of training. 

Let's start with the bench press. This is the easiest lift to explain because the bench press weights vary only by 5%, from 60 to 65% of a contest max with a bench shirt. Our 148-pounder, Darryl Calvin, has made an official bench of 391 by training with 10 triples with 245 (65%), with a total volume of 7350 pounds. By training with 270 for 10 triples, or 8100 pounds, Todd Brock has made a 450 contest best. Joe McCoy trains with 295 for 10 triples (a volume of 8850) and has benched 512 in a contest. Chuck Vogelpohl has an official max of 545. He performs his 10 set with 315, which equals 9450 pounds. George Halbert has made a 628 bench in an official competition using 365 for 10 triples. His total volume is 11,550. 

This is just a partial list of our bench pressers, but all of them train the bench the same way. You can see that as the bench max goes up, so does the volume. We increase our volume by doing special exercises: a variety of triceps, delt, and upper back exercises. These are regulated by training the weakest muscle group first and the strongest group last. This is a method of keeping our strength in balance. A lifter will overtrain by doing their favorite exercise first.

For example, if a lifter trains the shoulders first, this muscle group will get stronger because of the amount of work devoted to it, while the triceps may go nowhere because of neglect. In this case, overtraining the delts will cause the bench press to go backward. 

If one works the weakest muscles first, paying more attention to them, overtraining is much less likely to occur and work capacity can still be raised. Our method is a constant cycle of special exercises that raise the bench press. As the delt work increases, so does work capacity. As triceps work goes up, again so does work capacity. It all adds up to a bigger bench.

Either you have to be in great shape or your physical work capacity must always be raised slowly over a multi-year cycle. That's how a 390 bencher can become a 600 bencher. Over the years our private club has produced 18 men who have benched at least 500 in official contests, in addition to three 600-pound benchers, all of whom have used this method.

Let's talk about squatting and how to calculate volume. During the squat cycle the percentage one uses to train with will vary from 65 to 82.5% of max. My own data has shown that the best squat results occur in this percent range. In Eastern Europe, the same parameters have been established, with approximately 90% of the workload being in this range and 10% being above 82.5%.

How does one calculate volume? It's simple. Let's take a 700-pound squatter. He starts at 65% for 12 doubles, or 24 total lifts, at one weight, 455. Multiply 455 by 24, which equals 10,920 pounds. the next week he will jump 2.5%. This new weight, about 470, multiplied by 24 is 11,280 pounds, only 360 pounds more than the last workout. He will do 75% week five (490) for 10 sets of 2 reps. 20 X 490 = 9800 pounds. Week 6 is trained at 77.5%. Week 7 is trained at 80%, 560, for 8 sets of 2 reps (8960 pounds). At 82.5%, 8 sets of 580 for 2 reps is 9280. We jump 2.5% per week.

For the very strong (750 and above) the volume varies only 2000 pounds throughout the cycle, which is then repeated. Slowly the volume will increase as your max goes up. Picking the right special exercises is of great importance as well. When your volume is increasing and you are using the correct training percentages, but your powerlift fails to increase, you must plan your special exercises wisely to fortify your weakness in that particular lift.

The deadlift is trained by using several different exercises that perfect form and produce strength. Five different types of squats are performed during the yearly cycle. Five styles of good mornings are used, as well as many lower back, upper back, and front and side abdominal exercises. We also do isometrics and isokinetics. We will use 3-5 exercises per workout, monitoring the weight and total volume. We then switch every 3-4 weeks to different exercises, carefully planning which exercises will build a particular lifter's deadlift.

Over 20 exercises are performed during the time between contests, which is generally 8 weeks. Each exercise will help increase strength in another exercise, which in due time will increase the deadlift. You can count the deadlift as part of your volume if you do them in your workout; however, the deadlift is very taxing. If you do them, start with 15 singles at 65%. Again, multiply the number of lifts (reps) by the weight on the bar. Using this total volume as a guide, reduce the number of lifts each week as you increase the weight. Keep in mind that only a few can make progress by doing deadlifts on a regular basis. Most people will experience a negative effect after 3 weeks of deadlifting. Never exceed 85% for your singles, and always follow them with upper and lower back work to build your particular weakness.

If you don't raise your work capacity from your last meet, you won't exceed your lifts at the next meet. To increase your work capacity, you could reduce the rest interval between sets, increase your sets per workout (without exceeding the guidelines in the chart below), or use special exercises that are carefully chosen to increase strength and perfect form.

In most cases volume is increased with special exercises, the the classical lifts. Special exercises will not only increase volume but also correct lifting form. I hope this method will help you to reach your potential. Remember, there is not a special way for drug-free lifters to train, or masters, or even women. There is only the right way, by percents.


65% - 3-6 reps - 18-30 Total reps - 24 Optimal Total reps 
  70% - 3-6 reps - 12-24 Total reps - 18 Optimal Total reps    
75% - 3-6 reps - 12-24 Total reps - 18 Optimal Total reps   
 80% - 2-4 reps - 10-20 Total reps - 15 Optimal Total reps    
 85% - 2-4 reps - 10-20 Total reps - 15 Optimal Total reps    


No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive